In October 2020, FEI Canada surveyed over 100 finance leaders on their spend management experiences over the prior 6 months and their priorities going forward. Their responses highlight the significant impact felt by Canadian businesses due to the global pandemic, regardless of industry.
Topping the list of challenges were issues not previously cited in other spend management surveys, including Adjusting to a Remote Workforce. The pandemic prompted leaders to quickly adapt and take action, with the top three resulting actions being:
- Moving to Remote Work
- Cost Cutting
- Taking Advantage of Government Subsidies
The survey also indicated that spend management visibility was Somewhat Important or Very Important in their decision making over the last six months. For the best-in-class leaders, having the right solutions in place increased their agility, visibility and control over cash flow. Conversely, although visibility is critical, the majority of Canadian businesses are still at the start of their automation journey. While nearly half of respondents said their companies had Partially Automated spend management, only 8.5% of businesses claimed to be Fully Automated, which highlights the gap that remains in the Canadian journey toward automation. Survey respondents also noted the need for better spend management data and control for time-sensitive business decisions. Key learnings over the past six months included:
“Putting more scrutiny on stress-testing scenarios and budget assumptions to counter future uncertainty.”
“We either need to significantly automate our processes to remove staffing needs or we will fall behind where we need to be as an organization that can respond to increased costs swings due to external factors (ie pandemic).”
“Strong controls need to be adapted to ensure that gaps don't appear despite work-from-home environment.”
With many businesses expecting a slow return to business in Canada, and an even slower return to business travel, we can expect that many finance leaders will be using this time now to proper enhance their spend management processes.
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